Sgt. Marion Nicholson was recently about the benefits of joining the JROTC at North Dallas High School.
“Discipline, structure,” he said. “When they first come in, we tell them you will wear a uniform. You will present yourself as far as the way we want you to do it. We’ll teach you everything. We’re going to mentor, model, we’re going to show you everything that you’re going to need. Then we’re going to have somebody to assist you, work with you and show you that this is the problem with what you’re doing.”
Nicholson said about 200 students enroll and the number tends to drop a little. How is this year’s program doing so far?
“Our motto is motivate,” Nicholson said. “As we start seeing how it’s coming together, each day, we’re seeing little by little that they’re starting to catch on. They’re starting to understand that it’s about the community, working in the community, serving others, and helping others. So, we’re starting to see them come together as a group.”
The North Dallas JROTC students will be participating in the Cowtown Classic, competing in color guard, drill team and academic team, on Saturday at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center in Fort Worth. On Nov. 10, the JROTC cadets will be walking in the Veterans Day parade in downtown Dallas.
The North Dallas High JROTC program was named No. 1 in the Dallas ISD last spring.
“Until Cadet Command comes down and inspects everybody again, we’re still No. 1,” Nicholson said.
Nicholson said the students take a lot of pride in that.
“The pride that they take, they look and say, ‘Wow, every school, 23 schools did the same thing we did, but look what we did. We rise to the occasion. And that’s what it’s about — to do their best, be their best, act their best. That’s what we want them to do. If they do that here, they do it everywhere.”
Nicholson said the program offers opportunities for students to go to college.
“It’s still out there. A lot of them are coming in,” he said. “I can’t afford college right now but if I go into the Air Force, go into the Navy, go into the Marines, go into the Army, I can get an opportunity because they’re going to teach me some discipline.
“Our goal is ‘You Can.’ The way we make sure you can is by practice. we tell them the way you practice is the way you perform. We tell them if you want to be the best, you have to be out there every day. you have to work it. And when you start working it out there, it goes into the classroom — science, algebra, history. The leaders are stepping up and saying, ‘Hey, this is where I want to be. I’m part of this program.’ A lot of them don’t realize that they can get opportunities for college — Texas A&M, TCU. All of these programs are looking. We want you.”
And the program is beneficial to the students later in college and in life.
“Later on in life, they start realizing that those little baby steps that they were taking in high school, now come to college,” Nicholson said. “Now they are able to be that example for others, to show others that ‘Hey if you do the right things at the right time, you’re able to make it where you need to make it.’ ”
Nicholson is proud of the fact that JROTC students are involved in other activities at North Dallas. The band has JROTC members as well as the cheerleaders and also the football team.
“We find out that JROTC touches every entity in the high school,” Nicholson said. “It touches every facet of the program as far as the school itself.”
“This is an outstanding program and North Dallas high school is the best.”